I have long been a fan of Jamie Oliver and admire what he has done for the home cook. Many young cooks owe a great debt to Oliver for introducing them to the world of cooking. His chain of casual italian diners, Jamie’s Italian, has been a runaway success – with 30 restaurants in the UK and 5 further afield.
Jamie’s Italian has recently opened a branch in Edinburgh. Located in the historic Assembly Rooms, a recent refit has turned what was once wasted space into a chintzy, rustic dining space with a suitable smattering of bistro marble and tiles. Split over three levels, the large restaurant features open antipasti and finishing kitchens. The space was packed to the rafters on a Friday lunchtime, so be sure to make a reservation or get in early.
Service was well-informed and friendly, if a little cliché. In line with Jamie Oliver’s style of cooking the menu was rustic with a myriad of options. The food ethos was most definitely modern italian – sharing planks to start, homemade pastas and italian classics.
Crispy Squid was good. The batter was light and crisp and the accompanying sauce had a nice kick of mustard. Sliced chilli and fresh lemon helped to liven things up.
Baked Chestnut Mushrooms were served in a thin bread dough – crisp on the out, soft underneath. A great idea for a vessel to hold the mushrooms whilst giving it more body. The cheese scattered and melted on top could have been a little stronger and more mushrooms wouldn’t have gone a miss. This needed a big crack of black pepper to bring it alive.
Turkey Milanese stuffed with Prosciutto with Fried Egg, Shaved Truffle and Pea Shoots. I adore traditional Veal Milanese – it is one of my favourite dishes. Unfortunately, this Milanese failed to live up to expectations. Despite being mammoth, the turkey escalope was a tad tough and the dubbed prosciutto failed to shine through. The fried egg was a pleasant addition as was the truffle – which did not overpower. More pea shoots and fresh lemon would not have gone amiss. My biggest gripe, however, was the lack of seasoning. The dish (apart from the truffle) was bland – which is a great shame because the pairing of the egg and truffle with the escalope is a fantastic idea.
‘Famous’ Polenta Chips were adorned with rosemary and parmesan. Beautifully crisp, the interior was nice and fluffy. Unfortunately someone had been too stingy with the salt.
The Jamie’s Italian Burger contained a mixture of chuck and flank steak – served with smoked mozzarella, mortadella, onions and chillies. The burger itself was well-flavoured and nicely chargrilled. The texture was dry but passable when combined with the other ingredients – some form of sauce or mayonnaise would have helped.
A side of Posh Chips were ordered for the burger. Served with parmesan and truffle oil – the latter ingredient was mysteriously absent. The chips were a big letdown. Undercooked and soggy, they had managed to soak up much of the cooking fat without turning remotely crisp.
The style of food served at Jamie’s Italian is sure to please the majority of palates. Rustic and comforting, the dishes sound fantastic on paper but unfortunately fail to truly deliver on flavour. Under seasoning was the primary culprit for blandness on my visit – as the quality and combination of ingredients were good. A lively atmosphere and pleasing food is great for a quick lunch. However, I am unsure I would trust Jamie’s Italian for supper just yet.
Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh
Food (For Two): £40
Dress Code: Casual
Recommended: For a casual lunch